minstrel: Something interesting.

Heather Rose Jones hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Thu Aug 21 09:34:36 PDT 1997


On Wed, 20 Aug 1997 mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Aug 1997, Heather Rose Jones wrote:
> > Much of the popular fantasy about "bardic immunity" comes from the
> > relatively high social status of the bard in early medieval society in
> > Ireland and Wales (where the term "bard" actually has meaning). But even
> 
> Interestingly enough, I have discovered that (in Celtic Ireland, at least)
> what we think of as "Bards" were actually called "ollamhs," with this
> class being divided into seanachaid and file (forgive any mispellings).
> The term "bard" actually seemed to apply to uneducated popular
> entertainers.  I can dig up documentation tonight if you like.

Ah, you speak from the Irish context; I speak from the Welsh context. Yet
another example of the gross mistake of assuming that one can make
generalizations about the meaning of _any_ word beyond a narrow,
clearly-defined cultural context. Note that none of the terms you provide
(ollamh, seanchaid, file) have any correspondence to Welsh terminology. 

I guess I was misled by all the people who go around claiming that our
common use of "bard" in English for a high-status poet was taken from
Irish usage.

Tangwystyl


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